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An attack of writer’s block is the scribe’s very worst nightmare (well, apart from that one about being trapped in a suitcase full of slugs). But if you do find yourself hitting the wall then despair ye not, because Jennifer Leung has some top tips for getting back into the writing groove…
Writing, as an art form, is often cited as one of the last remaining ‘pure’ arts. For other forms there are numerous tools and technologies to aid an artist in the process of creation. Tools exist to touch up photos, polish musical compositions and enhance artwork. On the other hand, such technologies have not yet been invented for the writing process (unless you count dictionaries, thesauruses and spell checkers, which we don’t – they’re hardly in the same class as Instagram or Photoshop, are they?). Once you’ve hit a writing wall, you’ve really hit a writing wall.
What do you do once your imagination’s ink has ceased to flow? What do you do when you can’t quite think of that word? What do you do when you’ve been staring at a blank page for literally an hour?
Heeding this advice would be a very good start:
Firstly, give yourself some TLC
If you’ve been laid low by writer’s block, this means that your brain needs to recharge. The first thing you need to do is disengage yourself from your writing and put aside your computer/notebook for the time being. You will return! Assuming you have time and haven’t left an assignment until the night before, you’ll be able to focus more clearly and efficiently if you give yourself a short break.
Have you ever found that you write better without time pressure? That the whole process is more enjoyable and relaxed? Well, you need to give yourself plenty of time to rest your brain between bouts of wordsmithery. Think of a typical 2000 word assignment as 100 word blocks that you complete gradually over a few weeks, not one day. Basically, don’t rush your work if you know that your writing will suffer. (Some people, of course, do thrive under the pressure of a deadline.)
Secondly, fail to prepare, prepare to fail
The planning and drafting process is essential for any piece of great work. Do you think your favourite author, playwright or poet bashed out their literary masterpiece in a few hours and then called it a day? Our thoughts need to be revised constantly. Before you start writing, collect your thoughts together by creating a mind-map or writing down a few preliminary bullet points. Once you begin the planning and drafting process, you will automatically devise new ideas even when you’re not particularly thinking about it.
Thirdly, seek inspiration
As clichéd as it may sound, inspiration arises when you’re least expecting it. Embody the stereotype of a writer and carry a notebook around with you (or if you’re a techy type, an app like Evernote on your phone) so you can jot down any words or ideas that arise from stimuli throughout your day. Watch a film or TV, read a book or magazine, go for a walk somewhere picturesque; most importantly, though, don’t suffer in silence – talk to people!
Even the most skilled writers lack inspiration from time to time. As discussed, the ultimate key is to give yourself time. Time creates inspiration, which in turn provides motivation to write.
Please share any of your own tips for conquering writer’s block in the comments section below.